It was weird how soon I knew something was off. Denny was never late to anything. He would always say, “If you’re not ten minutes early, then you’re late.” He would even get annoyed when we were first dating if I would show up late (which I did frequently) and would try to hide his frustration. He didn’t hide it well. Fun fact: I was 45 minutes late to our outdoor wedding. Not kidding, one reason I was so confident in marrying him that day is because he was still so excited and happy when I got there. He wasn’t even kind of annoyed. He was just so excited to be married to me.
But on that Friday, I knew by 8:01am something was off. Actually, I remember him leaving early in the morning, but he told me on Thursday that he was going to the gym the next morning. So I woke up just as he was leaving and rolled back over and went back to sleep. When Winnie woke me up with a Diet Coke (the only good thing about that day was her running in with a can yelling “Good Morning”) at 745, I noticed Denny’s phone was here. Then after him not getting home to shower before work, I told myself I was being paranoid and would wait until 8:15 to get my girls dressed and we’d head out. But he didn’t show up. So we did.
By late Friday morning, Denny’s boss knew something was up. He had been working with Denny for almost 9 years. Denny had been a part owner of one location of their dealership group for years and just got a huge promotion in August to become CFO over all of their dealerships. Denny was overly responsible. Like I’ve said before, all he ever wanted was to have a family and provide for them. So to be promoted to a big position at a successful company was incredible for him. And he never missed a beat at work. He was obnoxiously on top of things and organized. But in the best way. I am actually diagnosed with OCD and I am a planner but he was more responsible than I was and always had things under control. He was this way at home too, but it was awesome to see him get credit for it outside of that. Basically what I’m saying is, Denny just not showing up for work was NOT like him. At least not the stable Denny that I had spent the last 5.5 years with. And his boss immediately knew something was off and called me. He gave me some ideas and we were doing things like checking his personal and company cards to track where he was. If he was in Wendover, he’d have to get money out. Or a hotel.
A little later after all the driving and calling and checking, I went back home to wait for him. I called the Police by 1 ish in the afternoon to find out details on a missing persons. I knew most likely they’d make me wait 24 hours or so before I could file a report since he was an adult and he left on his own but thought I’d check. The officer helped me get all of the information put into a report, gave me a case number, and told me as soon as it had been 24 hours he could officially file. I guesstimated that he left around 5 am so that was our mark. They were so kind and the officer checked in with me a couple of times that evening to see if we’d heard anything.
Friday evening came and went. Friday night was hard. I spent that whole day and night at the window. The car he had been driving lately at work was noisy so every time I heard a noisy car I’d run to the window to see if it was him pulling in. Winnie did the same thing. She was looking out constantly. None of us slept. I kept both girls in bed with me.
I know this wasn’t planned. At least not for any more than a few hours before he left the house. We actually had discussed plans for the next day on Thursday evening. Even when we had gone to bed, we left it on a good note. I mean I was overwhelmed with the things he was opening up to me about. And he was clearly stressed. But we were teasing and laughing and we had come up with a specific list of things we were going to do in order to overcome this. I was going to support him. We could do this. He needed to work through this stuff to be the person his girls believed him to be. He was just a phenomenal human being and dad, but of course if you don’t work through stuff it comes back to bite you and affects your family. So we were good. He was just stressed. He was pacing all evening and until I was falling asleep. But we were okay. Nothing felt like the end of the world or like we were anything but just stressed. He knew I was in it. He knew I loved him. He knew I needed him and he was the girl’s entire world and they needed him.
Saturday morning, the Officer called. We filed the report. I felt bad doing it. Denny didn’t like sharing his business unless he felt like it would benefit that person in some way. So I knew he’d be frustrated when he got back because he’d have to explain a lot of things to a lot of people. I knew he’d understand why I did this though once he got back. You don’t just disappear on your wife and children with no way to track you/find you/get ahold of you and no information. I just wanted to minimize the explaining he’d have to do.
Saturday morning I made some more phone calls. My aunt Heidi and my sister Jessi came over. [I have two younger sisters, Jessi is 3 years younger and Gabi is 7 years younger. We are all insanely close but Gabi was in Iceland.] Almost everything on that day, March 23, 2019 is foggy. I don’t remember a lot, only very specific weird things and moments. I was running on maybe 2 hours of sleep, if that. But I didn’t feel tired. His loved ones who had seen him go through his disappearing thing before kept telling me, “He’s coming back, just give him time.” “It’s going to be a few days Dani, just rest.” They we’re right, I thought. But I still couldn’t eat or sleep or do anything but stare out the window. I felt helpless because he could have been anywhere. There weren’t any transactions on any card (we kept checking), but he had filled up his tank within the last few days so he could have gotten far on that. If I left the house, what if he came back and saw we were gone and left again? Maybe he had a card that I had forgotten about? Maybe that’s where he was getting money to spend? Maybe he just slept in his car? There was a stage of his life in his late teenage years where he was sleeping on park benches and couch surfing. If he showed up at any of his friends houses, they would call me. Right? He usually didn’t carry more than $100 of cash on him but that could buy a whole lot of booze. So maybe that’s what he was doing? I had no idea but went through every possibility.
Part III Here